Identifying Difficulties with Inference

Emanating from Wendy’s doctoral research, Identifying Difficulties with Inference (IDI) has been designed to enable teachers, speech-language therapists, educational psychologists and SENDCos/ALNCos identify difficulties with inference in children and young people aged around 6 to 16 years. In particular, IDI focuses on how pupils understand

1. New or unfamiliar meanings of words and phrases in context, looking at whether pupils are able to use context to work out which meaning is the most likely. For example the sentence “I completely threw Emma with that spelling test” implies that the teacher confused Emma – not that she physically threw her!

2. Contradiction between saying and meaning, looking at whether pupils can understand how nonverbal context serves to negate words. For example, “I’m perfectly happy, thank you” spoken with an angry tone to convey the speaker is most definitely not happy!

Difficulties with inference particularly affect pupils with pragmatic language difficulties. These kinds of difficulties are typically seen in pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome and also in pupils with Developmental Language Disorders in the junior and secondary school years into adulthood. Inferencing skills usually develop from around the age of 6, so it is at this time that any problems with inference start to show. Pupils who have more general learning difficulties also typically have difficulties with inference in the secondary school years onwards.

IDI will enable you to detect problems early on which otherwise may go undetected until later. This is particularly important because difficulties with inference can lead to behavioural or emotional difficulties - it is the one area of comprehension where pupils can think they’ve understood when they haven’t - this is because Inference is to with understanding language that is open to interpretation. So the reactions pupils get may not be the ones they expect and this can lead to them feeling that they are being treated unfairly and create mistrust. IDI only takes around 20 minutes to administer so it can be used as a screening measure - it will flag up the difficulty and this can be explored further.
With children who have language/communication difficulties you can use IDI to identify the need for teaching/therapy to help children make inferences and to evaluate the effectiveness of your teachng/therapy programme.


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Formerly part of the procedure Understanding Ambiguity, IDI includes

  • A summary of research into normal developmental patterns with diagnostic information relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental language difficulties

  • New information about the general principles of identifying difficulties with inference and the assessment of pragmatic comprehension

  • New information on interpreting students’ responses

  • Larger, more reliable pictures in colour

  • New comparison data on more than 250 non-impaired children.

IDI is in two sets: IDI1 – Meanings in Context and IDI2 - Contradiction between Saying and Meaning. Each set comprises a manual, test pictures, disc and  record sheets. You can buy it on its own or as part of the Pragmatic Bookset (IDI, Into Inference and Language Choices).


Want to take a look at IDI? Email enquires@wendyrinaldi.com to book a Skype call to view.

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